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Ethernet – the pros and cons:

Think of ADSL Broadband as the public motorway of data services, liable to clog up at peak times. Ethernet is your private toll motorway – more expensive, but guaranteed to be faster and more reliable at all times.

Unlike Broadband, Ethernet was designed for businesses, not the residential market. Its key advantage lies in its use of dedicated high capacity fibre optic lines. Think of Broadband as the public motorway of data services – available to all users but liable to clog up at peak times. By way of contrast, Ethernet is your private toll motorway…more expensive, yes, but guaranteed to be faster and more reliable at all times.

Unlike Broadband, Ethernet is a symmetrical data transfer technology – so upstream capacity is the same as downstream. For the many businesses, this is essential – allowing outgoing email to be dispatched faster, ftp uploading to be carried out more efficiently and cloud-based services to be used seamlessly.

The robust nature of Ethernet means that faults and dropped connections, while possible, are extremely rare. Availability is often in excess of 99.9%. Should anything go wrong, fix times tend are much shorter than ADSL. Ethernet SLAs (Service Level Agreements) might typically feature fix times of just a few hours, compared to fix times of one to two days (possibly longer) for Broadband. It is also likely to be supported by
a 24-hour support desk.

Service level agreements offered by Ethernet providers cover not only availability but also performance: the speed data takes to traverse the network (latency); how much variability there is in this speed (jitter); and how accurately data is transported (packet loss). Certain applications, like IP voice, can also be prioritised over others. These performance measures and the ability to prioritise are critical for more advanced applications businesses may use, like IP telephony, and other cloudbased services. They are typically not widely available on Broadband services, but are on those sold by providers who specialise in voice applications.

The downside of Ethernet can be cost, typically around ten times that of a basic broadband package, although as Ethernet prices come down the gap is closing. For SMEs with limited IT budgets, this is clearly an issue.


In terms of performance and technology, Ethernet is clearly superior to Broadband. But for many SMEs, particularly smaller ones, the extra monthly cost puts it out of reach. However, there are hybrid products (which we’ll consider in the following
section) offering performance closer to that of
Ethernet – without the price tag.

Broadband – the pros and cons:

Broadband uses a shared public network. So, while fast speeds are achievable, there are times when the sheer volume of internet traffic slows everything down. One of the main advantages of Broadband is its wide availability throughout the UK compared to cable services. This is because it is delivered via the existing telephony infrastructure. So almost every business and home can access it. It also offers the potential for fast speeds – up to 24Mb/s download speeds – at an affordable price.

However, while the headline download speed may look fast, do remember this will be limited by your distance to the exchange and by general internet traffic volume. Upload speeds will be slower.

The way Broadband is delivered is one of its key disadvantages. Copper telephone lines are susceptible to signal loss – so, if your business is a long way from the exchange, you may get a very slow service. Adverse
environmental conditions (storms, flooding etc) can also disrupt services.

Progress has been made on this front and Broadband remains the most popular way to connect to the internet. However, it is not as reliable as Ethernet – something that is reflected in Service Level Agreements and fix times.

The other major drawback of Broadband is the fact that it uses a shared public network. So, while fast speeds are achievable, there are times when the sheer
volume of traffic slows everything down. For instance, on a typical weekday, there’s often a sharp increase in traffic around 3.30pm – 4.00pm. Why? Because when children get out of school, they jump on the nearest device to start gaming, streaming music or watching YouTube. Business users will suffer if their Broadband provider is focused on residential users. When residential traffic increases, the speed of business connections tends to drop off.


For the price, Broadband provides value for money and is available almost everywhere. But most packages, even those marketed as ‘Business Broadband’, may not offer very reassuring service level agreements (SLAs). If your business, like many others, is becoming increasingly datadependent, you may want to look at options
beyond the basic Broadband package.

Which service is right for you?

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Do you have any questions?

If you would like to discuss further please get in touch.